why you should consider adding awards to your next event

It can be difficult sometimes to justify adding a new element to an event program that maybe isn’t seen as “necessary.” Your video presentation, cash call, and live auction must end up in the program, but how else can you engage guests and thank the community for their support? Adding an awards ceremony is a great way to highlight individuals or organizations who have taken that extra step in supporting your cause or have done their part to make a difference in the community.

where do we start?

First things first, come up with your categories. This can be tricky but take the time to really put some thought into these, as you may end up using them for years to come! Do you have some fantastic volunteers? Is there someone in the community making waves related to your cause? Or what about an organization that has always been a supporter?

Start with general categories such as a volunteer category or a leadership category and then add in the titles and descriptions. For example, if you’d like to highlight a long-standing volunteer, you could award them with the “Most Valuable Volunteer Award: This award represents the years of dedication and hard work showcased by this particular individual...”

Keeping your award on-theme is also a great (and fun) first step to naming and homing in on what the award will stand for.  If your gala is focusing on the future of your organization, consider a “Visionary Award” or if you are moving locations try out “Movers and Shakers.” This ensures the award title will be fresh every year and provide you with an opportunity to think about what matters to your nonprofit this year.

who do we give an award to?

Open it up to your organization. Allow your employees, volunteers, and leadership to nominate someone to receive an award. This takes the pressure off of you to single-handedly decide who deserves to win an award. Instead, you can hear from those around you who actively see or know of someone who is making a difference! People can email over their nominations or you can take a look at existing online nomination platforms, as well.

If you’d like a little more control over the nominations (avoid having too many opinions or options), create a jury to review first and narrow down the finalists from there. Take the remaining nominees and get your committee together to make the final decision on the winner(s).

can awards continue each year?

Absolutely. It’s encouraged that once you add an awards ceremony to your program, you continue doing so for years to come. This helps to build credibility for the awards and also to maintain consistency. Eventually, the awards could become a highly anticipated portion of your program and engage not only your regular attendees but a wider audience, as well. Recognizing a high-profile member of the community at your event can also attract the attention of the press and generate some earned media — another win for your event’s reach and your organization.

why go through all of this trouble for awards?

It’s easy to thank donors through signage, programs, and other standard event materials. But awards give you a new way to thank those who may not be able to support on a sponsorship level. The community shows support to your organization, so show some support to the community by recognizing them for their efforts to benefit your cause.

Need to mull this over with someone? Shoot me an email at rachelle@thecausecollab.org and I’d be happy to talk it through with you!